Wargaming

Although not as regularly played as Minecraft and Civ VI, the two war games I have continue to provide occasional entertainment. World of Tanks and World of Warships were introduced to me by the grandsons several years ago. We did some teaming up in remote play, but less of that with these games than others.

Even though World of Tanks was the first one released, the first game I played in this genre was World of Warships. Possibly because it was the first war game I played, it is my preference of the two, but I tend to be better at it also. I find it difficult to stay alive in Tanks, especially at my current level!

I decided early on to focus on the mid-size in both games, so in Warships I have mostly moved up the cruiser line, with a few attempts using other ships. In Tanks I also have tried a couple of other tank sizes, but I like the combination of mobility and relative strength of the medium tanks. Currently my highest levels are VIII in Warships (Cleveland) and VI in Tanks (Sherman). In both games the highest level is X, so I have a long way to go and likely will never really get there because it takes so much experience at each level to gain enough points to move up a level and I don’t play either game all that often.

This genre of game is not particularly interesting to me, but these two games provide a diversion when needed.

Civ VI Mods

As I have played the game over the now five years since its release in October 2016, I have found that using mods can make it much more fun and sometimes easier to use. All the mods I use regularly are UI (user interface) focused.

For quite a while the only one I used, because it made so many improvements that I found helpful, was Concise UI by eudaimonia. About the time of the beginning of the New Frontier Pass release, he stopped updating the mod. A brief note by him appeared in the comments section of the Concise UI page on Steam sometime last summer where he noted that he no longer had the time to do regular fixes because there were too many changes and more to come monthly for at least several months. I and a number of other users of the mod were disappointed, but I certainly understood.

I don’t recall just when, but another modder, Adriaman, decided to help and he posted some fixes for that mod. Eventually he converted his fixes to become a full version that he called Concise UI Reloaded. I have been using it ever since. (Using it requires disabling or uninstalling the original Concise UI.)

There are a few things still missing from the original, so that meant trying some other mods to fill in the gaps of what I was then quite used to seeing or using. The process of discovery, trying, and eventually keeping or discarding other mods has led me to the below list of ten.

Adriaman posted a note that recommended using his Diplomacy Compatibility Patch to fix some issues some players were having, but when I tried it, I found it actually messed things up for me and have therefore disabled it. Maybe it is just game configurations, other mods being used, different platforms, etc. that caused problems for others.

A somewhat unique mod (not on my list) – the Environment Skin: Sid Meier’s Civilization by Brian Busatti – is a kind of throw-back to the look of Civ V. Some gamers who are still in love with Civ V and like it better than VI, are regular users of it. I tried it, but even though I played over 500 hours of Civ V, I am no longer all that attached to its visual look, so I do not use that mod.

One mod I tried off and on for a few games – Quick Deals by wltk (initial idea from Deep Logic) – because so many of the users writing in the comments section praised it so highly. It continues to be very popular, but I just found it a bit too restricting and have mostly stuck with the Better Deals Window by Venom.

I just learned very recently of Sukritact’s Oceans, the last mod on my list, although I have known of the modder Sukritact for a long time. It is actually a special game mode (like Monopolies and Corporations) so it requires not only subscribing to it and having it enabled, but it also must be selected in the advanced settings for a new game. So far, I have played just one game with it, but I really like the various additions to the sea resources.

I am intrigued by some other Sukritact mods, currently trying his Iceland civilization. Some updates to this Civ VI Mods thread are likely from time to time.

Civ VI Mods I am currently using:

Discord

Back when they were still in high school, gaming at a distance with the grandsons meant using Skype (audio only) so we could chat while playing. A few years ago, they introduced me to Discord and we used that instead because they used it gaming with their friends, and we found it more consistently reliable.

For my wife and me, since the pandemic quarantine began in March 2020, Discord has become a regular part of our lives. We tried Zoom a few times and used it when we had to for various purposes such as connecting with our financial advisors, but Discord quickly became the preferred app for our family for several reasons. All three grandkids were tired of Zoom because that was what they used in their school/college. Familiarity with Discord for all of them and me, as well as ease of set up and use, was also an important reason.

Our granddaughter set up a family server for us and added one of the grandsons as an administrator as a backup. We now use it for regular (currently twice weekly) video chats with any family members that show up at the appointed time. We enjoy Discord not only for the live chats, but also to see and post to the many channels we have included – pictures, thoughts, ideas, memes, articles, podcasts, etc. I’ve used the private message feature a few times, too.

We have created some sub-groups for gaming and even have a separate exclusive channel for coding that my son and I use. We all have used the video feature for special yoga sessions – my daughter is a certified yoga instructor – available again to any family members who wanted to participate that day.

Most of us use the free version only. Granddaughter has Nitro (paid version) because she likes to add her own art work, animations, etc. to modify her avatars. She is definitely a budding digital artist with a particular interest in anime.

For us as a family, it is a far better medium than Facebook or any other social media app.

Minecraft Mods

Note: In this post, I use the word ‘mods’ loosely to mean any modification of the default version of Minecraft.

For a long time, I never changed anything other than tweaking a few settings of the default version of Minecraft. Then one of my grandsons introduced me to a few mods he used and I liked them enough to try them.

The one I currently find most useful, OptiFine, is really a modified ‘version’ of Minecraft. It requires installation and then appears in the list of versions available in the Minecraft launcher. I use it mostly to improve the performance of the game, especially increasing the FPS (frames per second). A few other features are also useful, particularly the way a torch lights up the area when selected in the hotbar – handy in caves!

Recently I started using some resource packs again. The first one I added, Dramatic Skies, modifies the clouds, sun, and moon to be more realistic looking. The clouds look like real clouds and the sun and moon appear round instead of the standard square block in the sky. It works best when the default Minecraft clouds setting is turned off so the regular Minecraft cloud blocks do not get in the way.

More recently I decided to look for one of the other resource packs I used a long time ago to see if it had an updated version. Unfortunately, the one I used to use exclusively (along with OptiFine) is no longer up to date. In fact, the last Minecraft version R3D CRAFT works with is 1.12. That dates to 2017. Whoever developed it has obviously moved on. I’m still disappointed because it was so good.

The other resource pack I used sometimes when the R3D CRAFT mod needed updating was ‘Faithful’. It improved the default visual look of the blocks, etc. while still keeping the basic Minecraft look. In searching for it again, I found and tried Faithful HD512, because I thought an HD version would be the best, but I did not really like some of the textures. So, after looking at six or seven other resource packs at resourcepack.net, I finally settled on Faithful 32×32 because it appears to be the same as what I remember, but updated for the latest Minecraft version.

Over the years, I’ve tried various other resource packs, but have settled on these as the best for my visual enjoyment for now.

Firefox Certificates Glitch

A few weeks ago, when considering whether or not to restart blogging here, I found an old draft of a post from May 5, 2019 that never was published to the blog. I have hesitated to publish it now over two years later, but I think for my own benefit to remember old tech problems, it will be useful to do so. Back then, a major problem occurred using Firefox. Before finally publishing my draft now, I decided to find what version of Firefox was current back in early May 2019 and discovered the Wikipedia Firefox Version History. According to that, it was most likely Firefox 66.

Following is my May 5, 2019 draft:

A couple of days ago Firefox suddenly disabled all add-ons. I tried closing and reopening it, then tried uninstalling and reinstalling, all to no avail. The instructions given in the general help section said to delete and install the add-ons again. I tried that and was able to uninstall them, but not reinstall. It kept coming up with errors.

Next, I went online checking user forums and found that it had been identified as a glitch in the software and eventually it would be fixed. That was Friday night.

I checked again Saturday and found a comment that said it was fixed, but one had to allow Firefox to install and run studies. I did so, then was able to install all the add-ons I use again.

Most time consuming was reinstalling the feed reader, Feedbro. It was easy enough to get the addon, but it turned out I lost all the feeds I was using. I don’t know if I would have been able to recover them if I had not uninstalled it, but suspect I might have been able to.

This is the worst issue I’ve had using Firefox. The most confusing part of it was the glitch happened suddenly and not as a result of an update.

End of May 5, 2019 draft

My wife and I both continue to use Firefox and have had no problems since. A while back, we also began to use our own profiles making it much easier to navigate with our preferred bookmarks present.

Programming & Coding

My first computer was an Apple II+, although I learned to program in BASIC on a Radio Shack TRS-80 owned by my colleague and neighbor. He bought it when the two of us took a course at our university (we were both faculty members) to get started in programming. Not too many weeks later, I invested in the Apple because at the time I anticipated I would be better served by it, so taught myself how to program in Applesoft BASIC. It was similar to BASIC in DOS, but enough different it took some work to become proficient. That was the early 1980’s.

Fast forward to 2021. Using some mods in Civ VI and then having my favorite one go out of date due to New Frontier Pass updates was inspiration to consider learning how to at least tweak mods (like fixing the one I enjoyed), if not actually create my own mods. Since the mods are all open source, I was able to look at the code and try to decipher it. That led me to noticing that most mods were coded, at least in part, in Lua.

So, I embarked on the journey of learning how to code in Lua. I started with a few “beginner” videos and eventually decided I was just going to have to learn it on my own by working on a project. The most logical option for a project was to attempt to resurrect my old football game (I called it ‘Coach’s Football’ because it was not an action game, but simply a ‘thinking’ game that involved calling plays and defenses and watching the results.) That game written in Applesoft BASIC had minimal graphics.

Over the course of several months earlier this year, I gradually learned Lua enough to actually finish the core of the football game (minus any graphics) and it is now in ‘test’ mode, but I lost interest in doing the tedious testing.

To keep myself motivated to learn even more of Lua, I decided to use my old baseball game (that I programmed on my then Apple IIe in the mid-1980’s) as the next project because it could use Lua features the football game did not require. I have now completed the fundamental structure of the baseball game in Lua and it too is in ‘test’ mode.

Because, once again, I’m having difficulty finding the motivation to take time to just test the game, my Lua coding is now sporadic at best.

I have much more to learn before I can do anything more than tweak a Civ VI mod, but have not found the right project to learn on yet.

Saga of the Mice

Over many years of using computers, I have migrated from keyboard input only to a brief test of the early Mac mouse (never owned a Mac, but did try one out on loan), to various PC mouse choices.

Early on I just bought the mouse that came with the computer (e.g. Hewlett Packard) and never thought much about it. If one eventually quit working, I just bought a cheap replacement.

At some point, I decided to try a wireless mouse, especially for use with a laptop and convenient for travel. I bought an early Logitech and liked it, so bought a second one for my desktop computer. Eventually, I decided the cost of replacing batteries was not really worth the convenience, especially for the desktop, so quit using them.

After seeing a gaming mouse in operation, owned by one of my grandsons, I decide to invest in one. It was a Razer Death Adder. Unfortunately, I had problems with it – the left button malfunctioned – but fortunately it was still on warranty so it was replaced at no cost. When the replacement also ended up with a similar problem, this time after the warranty ran out, I decided it was not worth messing with anymore since I never really used the extra buttons and features for gaming anyway. So, I bought a basic Microsoft wired mouse again.

Recently my cheap Microsoft mouse began to fail, so while I was deciding what to buy next, I tried using my Logitech wireless mouse again. As before, the batteries did not last very long. Since I use it for many hours every day, that is not a surprise.

I intended to just buy another cheap wired mouse, but found none available in stores close to where I live, so looked online and found a new Logitech gaming mouse for less than $20 and decided to try that one.

So far so good.

(I still have not found a use for the extra buttons with Minecraft or Civ VI, though).

Minecraft Versions

I do not remember when Microsoft/Mojang began calling the PC version I’ve been playing for years the Java Edition, but that is the one I use with both my accounts. As I mentioned in the last post, I tried the Windows 10 Edition when it first came out, but was disappointed in several aspects of it, so have not even tried it since.

I took a couple of minutes to go back and check to see what Java Edition version of Minecraft I was playing when I last posted anything about Minecraft on this blog. It was version 1.13.1 Update Aquatic as best I can tell. There was one minor update of it to 1.13.2 before the next new version was released.

Much has happened with the various versions since then, each one with some unique new features. Because the Minecraft Fandom Wiki has a good deal of useful information, I will just make a few editorial comments under the listing of names and links of the releases rather than going into detailed descriptions.

  • 1.14 through 1.14.4 Village & Pillage
    • I found this mostly annoying. It took getting used to the village changes, especially the availability of crops. Before this update, all three basic crops (potatoes, carrots, wheat) were present in virtually every village. It also took a little time to learn to deal with the new hostile mobs.
  • 1.15 through 1.15.2 Buzzy Bees
    • This one is not terribly interesting. I rarely bother with honey, etc.
  • 1.16 through 1.16.5 Nether Update
    • This update apparently was long awaited by many gamers, I do not normally spend much time in the nether, so all I’ve done is a little exploration to see the new stuff.

The current version is 1.17.1 and I am playing it while I wait for the second release (1.18) of what is called Caves & Cliffs. It will probably be released late in the year.

So far, this version has been only mildly interesting. Many of the additions are not items I will use much and since I am more of a “dig-down” miner followed by systematic mining at level 11, I have not found many of the cave items that were added. I suppose while I wait for 1.18, I may try doing more cave exploration from surface cave openings to find and see more of the new sights.

Minecraft Account Migration

Last fall Microsoft/Mojang announced their plan to require all Minecraft accounts to login via a Microsoft account instead of the Mojang account. I believe their stated intention was to eventually eliminate the Mojang account. It was a while ago so I don’t remember all the details, but as I recall the primary reason was for better security.

Earlier this summer a notice began to appear on the Minecraft launcher screen that they had begun to migrate accounts from Mojang to Microsoft. The first time that notice popped up I read the explanation of how to get that done and then waited for my turn.

I have two Minecraft accounts dating back several years. I bought the second one so that visitors here could play with me via LAN even if they did not have their own Minecraft account. Over the years it has not been all that useful because those I play with have their own accounts, but there is no point in worrying about that now.

The reason I mention that here is my second account turned out to be the first one to be migrated. I went through the process and found it relatively easy to do. The only disappointment was the weird name I was assigned for my Xbox gamer tag. It is disappointing that one cannot choose your own tag when migrating. Anyway, I got the migration done the same day that account was eligible.

More recently my original Minecraft account was finally eligible for migration, so I did it same day again. This time the Xbox gamer tag turned out to be the same name assigned years ago when I tried the Windows 10 Minecraft version, which was a bit of a surprise, but after more thought, I think it kind of makes sense. In the process this time I discovered one can change the Xbox gamer tag one time with no charge, but if you want to do it again, it costs $9.99 each subsequent time. Changing names was somewhat challenging, but long story short I eventually got both my gamer tags changed to the same as their on-screen name.

Most disappointing is the fact that there appears to be no way to change the icon that goes with the login. Maybe there is a way I have not found yet. I’ll probably try again sometime when I am looking for some diversion.